Ranking the Most Unfortunate Hairstyles of the 1980s

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One of the best parts of taking a nostalgic look back at different decades is chuckling over some of the crazy hairstyles. Wardrobe and fashion trends may live to see another day, but it seems like the most ridiculous hairstyles never manage to make a comeback the way other fads do.

One of the most obvious examples of this phenomenon is the 1980s, a decade when big celebrities were not afraid of even bigger hair. Take a look at some of the most unfortunate hairstyles rocked by some of the top ’80’s stars.

30. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Bowl Cut

Although it might not look too bad, this bowl cut hairstyle — complete with bangs and the slightest little curl at the ends — hopefully won’t be making a comeback any time soon. Seen here in Brian De Palma’s Scarface, Pfeiffer has never been tempted to sport it again.

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We see short haircuts like this today from time to time, but it has never caught on like it did back in the 1980s. That’s not likely to change, considering the ‘do requires a lot of upkeep for very little payoff in terms of style. But, hey, it’s the best hairstyle on this list — if that counts for anything.

29. Hannah and Her Sisters’ Curls

Seen here on the heads of Mia Farrow and her fellow Hannah and Her Sisters co-stars in the mid-1980s, curly hairstyles were popular in the decade. Getting the proper effect required the use of so much hair product, the hair often ended up looking more wet than styled.

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It’s not the worst style to come from the decade — not by a longshot — but it’s a look that really shouldn’t be coveted by anyone in the 2020s. On the other hand, it’s a great look for those looking to come across as someone who didn’t have time to completely dry their hair in the morning.

28. Sissy Spacek’s Family Affair

What a cute family photo, right? Wrong! It’s not Sissy Spacek’s real family, of course, but rather her co-stars from the movie Marie. Still, there’s not a single look here that would be popular today — except maybe the daughter’s, which is basic but not bad compared to the other three cuts.

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From Spacek’s curly bangs and curly ponytail to the kids’ looks that scream “botched haircut from Great Clips in the mall,” this entire image doesn’t inspire anything positive. Here’s to hoping it wasn’t taken outside a hair salon after an expensive quadruple haircut session.

27. Brooke Shields’ Unfinished Business

Have you ever wanted to look like you were in the middle of straightening your hair, but then you realized you were running incredibly late, so you decided to pull part of your hair back and leave the rest just hanging there half-straightened? That’s the look Brooke Shields pulled off in The Blue Lagoon.

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Somewhat of a messy look, this hairstyle was quite common in teens and adults alike. To the modern onlooker, it looks less stylish and more like some unfinished business that could use a lot of attention.

26. Al Pacino’s Beatles Throwback

The true scope of the influence the Beatles had on pop culture is almost impossible to understand. Their impact on music, movies and the arts will always be remembered, no matter how long they’ve been gone. The only downside to this is the lasting effect they also had on hair.

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Seen here on Al Pacino, the Beatles bowl cut looks somewhere between intentionally messy and unintentionally drab. It’s almost like the style calls for the wearer to simply roll out of bed and go about their day without ever even touching their hair.

25. Matt Dillon’s Hockey Player Hair

It’s not uncommon for teenage boys to sport longer hair than they did when they were younger. Somewhat an act of rebellion, it’s a visual representation of their lack of care and consideration for the opinions of the world. The concept has never really gone out of fashion, although the exact look has changed.

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In the 80s, this is what the long-haired rebel looked like. Sported by Matt Dillon in 1982’s Tex, the hair required teens to spend a lot of time feathering and drying it — although they never would have admitted it.

24. Valerie Bertinelli’s One Curl at a Time

One look that seems to still pop up from time to time with older adults is the “big curls, big bangs” of the 1980s. Seen here on One Day at a Time star Valerie Bertinelli, it should be a pretty recognizable ‘do for those who have anyone above the age of 50 or 60 in their lives.

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Not too far off from the stereotypical “mom cut” of the 2000s, this curly hairdo with a part down the middle isn’t horrible, but it isn’t really great either. The bangs look a little too retro for modern tastes.

23. Dustin Hoffman’s Dippy Hairdo

Men’s hairstyles are often wilder than women’s. With so many desperately clinging to their masculinity while also trying to appear stylish, the end result can sometimes be something truly demented and a little foolish. The blown-out men’s look is one such example.

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Photo Courtesy: Columbia Pictures/IMDb

Seen here in 1982’s Tootsie, Dustin Hoffman’s strange feathered ‘do seems to be better suited to someone with a much smaller head (or an entirely different gender). It’s nothing against the actor. It just seems a bit like an unfair cut from a hairstylist who might have had some sort of vendetta.

22. A Nightmare on Depp’s Street

Apparently, it was really difficult to style men’s hair in the ’80s. From men with longer hair to boys with shorter cuts, the hairstyles required a lot of real effort to look sharp. Unfortunately, this effort can sometimes be overdone and result in a look that is simply not good.

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Take a look at Johnny Depp in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Just check out those curls. The look isn’t far off from one that could be achieved by standing up in a convertible at 70 miles per hour.

21. Meryl’s Mullet

It’s not really overstating it to say that the mullet is probably the worst hairstyle to come out of the 1980s. Of all these other looks — from curls to bowl cuts to long, flowing hair — the only one to live and die exclusively within the decade is the mullet.

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Photo Courtesy: Twentieth Century Fox/IMDb

Seen here on Meryl Streep in 1983’s Silkwood, the hairstyle is particularly bad when it’s placed on a woman’s head instead of a man’s. It’s seriously impossible to imagine this look ever returning to the same level of popularity it enjoyed in the past.

20. Mel’s Mullet

Traditionally a man’s hairstyle, the mullet is seriously awful. While some women wore a deviation of the style (like with Meryl Streep’s haircut pictured above), it was always a style intended to make men look good. It seemed to work at the time, although women today would thoroughly disagree.

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Photo Courtesy: Warner Brothers/IMDb

Mel Gibson is the primary star offender when it comes to sporting a mullet. Seen with the hairstyle throughout the Lethal Weapon films, it was almost as if “Mel” and “mullet” were synonymous. If the style ever returns, he gets all the blame.

19. Working 9 to 5, No Time for Haircuts

The working woman faces tougher challenges than the working man in some respects. In addition to dressing nicely, they have the unspoken expectation to rock some fabulous hair and makeup. It can be hard to find a look that’s both professional and presentable.

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Here’s a real triple threat: Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton and Jane Fonda, all three sporting indisputably ’80s big hairdos. Just as they fought for fair and equal treatment in the workplace, contemporary audiences fight the urge to laugh at their ridiculously curly hairstyles.

18. Rob Lowe’s Lone Earring

He was lucky enough to receive a second chance at stardom in the late 2000s and early 2010s, but there was a time in the ’80s when Rob Lowe was just making a name for himself. After his big break and a decade of success, the actor slowly disappeared for a while by the end of the ’90s.

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Perhaps this odd haircut is to blame? Pictured here in 1985’s St. Elmo’s Fire, Lowe was possibly subjugated to pretty boy roles that ultimately damaged his career — and his earlobe — thanks to his pretty boy hair.

17. How to Beat the High Cost of Haircuts

What would you do if you entered this kitchen — from Robert Scheerer’s film How to Beat the High Cost of Living — and saw these three women sporting these truly baffling hairdos? One thing is for certain: Your gut instinct would be to run and not try to replicate the looks.

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Photo Courtesy: MGM/IMDb

Regardless of how they appear now, these three hairstyles were classy and genuinely attractive to those in the audience in the ’80s. It might seem hard to believe now, but no one would have second-guessed these women’s choices back then.

16. Debra Winger’s Wings

Although the actress seems to take on more subtle, less high-profile roles than she did throughout the 1980s, Debra Winger’s unfortunate hairstyles will never be forgotten as long as the films continue to be viewed. From curls to bangs, the styles often had a girlish look to them that suited Winger — at the time.

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Photo Courtesy: Paramount Pictures/IMDb

Starring in such movies as Terms of Endearment, An Officer and a Gentleman and Urban Cowboy, she was a real “it girl” with the curls to back her up. From movie to movie, she never seemed to stray too far from those seemingly uncontrollable locks. They evidently suit only her.

15. Nicole Kidman’s Not Kidding

And now, the top — no one wants to be on top! — of the list of worst hairstyles of the ’80s. One of the downsides of becoming an actor at a young age is the embarrassing styles that often accompanied your younger years — immortalized forever on film.

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Before she was telling Big Little Lies, Nicole Kidman was just a young Australian up-and-comer who wasn’t afraid to show off her big — as in huge! — curls. Seen here in a minor B-movie from her home country, the actress is sporting a look she would never attempt today.

14. Sarah Jessica Parker’s Pony

Decades prior to the success of the hit HBO dramedy Sex and the City, Sarah Jessica Parker was just starting to make a name for herself in various 1980’s comedies and romances. One such film, Disney’s 1986 Flight of the Navigator, cemented her blonde curly look that is no longer anywhere to be found.

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Frizzy and crunchy-looking — thanks to a bunch of hairspray and styling products, no doubt — Parker’s hair retains a few waves today, but she has never dared to return to this crazy-looking kind of ‘do since she became famous.

13. Glenn Close’s Close Crimp

After an incredibly close Oscar race last year in the wake of her gripping drama The Wife, Glenn Close was a name that was on many lips for many months. For a moment, it was like the 1980s had made a comeback. Thankfully for Close and fans of Close, her 1980’s hair didn’t make a comeback as well.

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Seen more as a straight-haired talent today, Close actually used to possess some of the curliest hair in the game back in the day. Her small, close-knit curls somewhat resembled a reddish-blonde-haired perm.

12. Madonna’s Messy Melon

All kinds of artists have tried and failed to mimic Madonna in the years since she first started to rise to popularity at the turn of the ’80s decade. An actress, a singer and a performer, the star has no equal amid a sea of copycats. Despite this truth, who would want to copy this crazy look?

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Her style often looked like someone took their hands and just went crazy, leaving a wind-whipped look that was a hot mess. Madonna also liked to add bits of fabric to her hair as an added bonus.

11. Sigourney’s Wild Style

The Ghostbusters movies continue to be hugely popular pieces of intellectual property as we begin the 2020s and await the next entry in the series. Even though only one of the three movies is truly spectacular, the other two films still have loyal fanbases.

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One recurring element is female lead, Sigourney Weaver, whose iconic ’80s curls made their way into multiple titles beyond Ghostbusters, including Alien and Working Girl. The actress managed to cultivate her curls from movie to movie without ever compromising her signature look. It was actually pretty impressive.

10. Kylie’s Curls

“C’mon baby, do the locomotion!” It’s a tune that blasted pop star-turned-actress Kylie Minogue into the stratosphere in the 1980s, securing her a spot in the pop culture pantheon for decades to come. That’s why her hairstyle is forgivable — she eventually moved on from it.

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Characterized by blonde curls from top to bottom and culminating in a mess of them at the very top of the head, her look was copied by countless girls hoping to perfectly replicate her signature style. Her hair was as catchy as her hit single.

9. Romancing the Barber

Indiana Jones and Marion, Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor, Han Solo and Leia Organa — it’s important for an action movie to have male and female leads who pair up as a couple to create much broader appeal and make the movie that much more iconic. For Robert Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone, the perfect duo was Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner.

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Unfortunately for them, their looks are far less famous than those of their colleagues, due in large part to their incredibly dirty-looking ‘dos. Still, the dirty hair style managed to acquire some loyal followers.

8. Cher-ing a Look

Couples that style together stay together. At least, that was the argument presented by the stars of Peter Bogdanovich’s 1985 film Mask. Cher and Sam Elliot both sport traditional ’80s hairdos featuring long-lost looks full of curls, feathered fades and thick, burly mustaches — just for Elliott, of course.

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It’s only fair that a husband and a wife share similar ’80s styles as a matching pair of stylish lovers who can’t go out in public without fearing that one looks better than the other. Imagine being able to afford two monthly trips to the salon!

7. John Stamos, What Exactly Is Going on Here?

The seminal John Stamos project from the 1980s would definitely have to be the family sitcom Full House, which continues to air in reruns today in addition to the sequel series Fuller House streaming on Netflix. The actor did have other things going on that decade, and he had the same feathered hair for all of it.

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Case in point: See the short-lived Stamos-starring TV series Dreams from 1984. Stamos and the rest of the cast of dancers will go down in history as wearing some of the very worst hairstyles ever seen on a human head.

6. Linda Hamilton’s Ludicrous Look

Not so much a mullet as a labradoodle’s signature look, Linda Hamilton’s look from the very first Terminator movie in 1984 is on full display. The concept appeared to take every inch of hair and give it all tight curls from top to bottom.

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Looking like Ramen Noodles, the curls really start to pile up toward the top, resulting in a poofy, mullet-like look that is anything but inconspicuous. No wonder the T-800 had such an easy time finding Sarah Connor. All he had to do was look for those crazy curls.

5. Van Halen’s Quadruple Threat

From the Beatles to One Direction, boy bands have always had a tremendous impact on the way men styled their hair — for whatever reason. No matter the decade, boy band trends have always seemed to involve long hairstyles. Think of it as the shaggier the better.

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In the 1980s, some of the greatest examples belonged to the 1980’s “hair band” Van Halen. Still hailed as one of the greatest rock bands by Americans who grew up in the ’80s, the balding patriarchs probably wish they could grow awful locks like these again. Thankfully, they can’t.

4. Clooney’s Curls

Long considered one of the most handsome and talented actors of the 20th and 21st centuries, George Clooney never ceases to impress audiences across the planet. From his low-key dramas to his big-budget adventures, the actor can truly do anything — except erase this 1980’s look from the record.

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A sitcom actor who was just starting to make his way up the ladder at the time, Clooney’s voluptuous curls really weren’t very flattering at all. Thankfully, the actor mostly keeps his hair quite short these days.

3. Julia Roberts’ Mystic Mess

America’s sweetheart from the moment she first appeared on screen, Julia Roberts captivated the attention of audiences throughout the ’80s and well into the ’90s. These accolades could never excuse this hair, though. What in the world was she thinking?

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Seen here in one of her earliest feature film roles, Mystic Pizza, Roberts and her hairstylist must have assumed that big curls would equal big success. They weren’t necessarily wrong — Roberts went on to become a huge star after the film — but that doesn’t make the hairstyle right.

2. Cyndi Lauper’s Loopy Locks

Cyndi Lauper is no stranger to wild hairstyles. Search her name for any year, and you’re likely to find a look that only she would dare try. The 1980s were an especially heinous hair time for the singer.

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Seen on many of the biggest pop stars from the decade, the trend of adding fabric and flair to frizzy, messy hair is genuinely baffling to think about from today’s perspective. It’s almost like a rat’s nest, filled with scraps and fragments of whatever was left lying around the house.

1. Jon Bon Jovi’s Bungled Band

Here’s the worst of the worst. When all is said and done, is it actually surprising to realize the worst hairstyles from the 1980s all belong to the decade’s biggest hair bands. What the heck was going on?

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Whoever Jon Bon Jovi is singing about in his hit single “You Give Love a Bad Name” can rest easy knowing that at least they don’t give hair a bad name like the singer does. From his long, luscious locks to the frazzled blowouts that made band members look like electrified cartoon characters, Bon Jovi bandmates are the primary offenders of the 1980s.

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